Third Generation Racer Matthew Brabham Scores Win at USF2000 Opener
 March 15, 2012| 
  • Series News
Mark Eaton Takes National Class Honors

SEBRING, Fla. - Florida-born, third-generation racer Matthew Brabham put down a marker by besting a huge, 36-car field and winning this afternoon’s opening round of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at Sebring International Raceway.

Brabham, who recently celebrated his 18th birthday, took the lead at the first corner and never looked back. The race was punctuated by a pair of incidents, one of which caused the race to finish under full-course caution after only nine of the scheduled 12 laps had been completed, but that didn’t concern Brabham who never put a foot wrong.

His win aboard the #83 The DTE Group Van Diemen-Mazda ensured continued success for the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team, which had won last year’s USF2000 crown with Finland’s Petri Suvanto, who will step up the Mazda Road to Indy Ladder this year by competing in the Star Mazda Championship, and the recent Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship with last year’s championship runner-up Spencer Pigot.

The race began in dramatic fashion when 15-year-old Luigi Biangardi, from Chicago, Ill., who had impressed massively by planting his ArmsUp Motorsports’ entry on the pole, tangled with third row qualifier Trent Hindman from Wayside, N.J., in Turn One.

Brabham, who qualified second, had already moved into the lead, but the incident in his wake immediately resulted in a full-course caution.

At the restart with three laps in the books, Brabham once again took off into the lead, chased by Australian-born Roman Lagudi, from Las Vegas, Nev., in the Belardi Auto Racing entry, and Thomas McGregor, from Saskatoon, Canada, in the #7 Dairy Queen/Exclusive Management/Andretti Autosport car.

Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., jumped from sixth to fourth soon after the restart, and next time around managed to catch and pass McGregor for third in Turn Seven.

With Brabham secure in the lead, Pigot began to chase down Lagudi for second but was prevented from making a challenge by another full-course caution which brought the race to a premature conclusion.

Mark Eaton, from Melbourne, Fla., ensured a clean sweep for local drivers by claiming  National Class honors in the Robinson Motor Sports’ Formula Enterprises Van Diemen-Mazda. Reigning FE SCCA National Champion Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport), from Camden, Ohio, finished second in the class, narrowly ahead of inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine winner Bobby Kelley (ArmsUp Motorsports), from Riverside, Calif., and 15-year-old Norwegian Henrik Furuseth (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who posted the class’ fastest lap of the race.

Brabham will start on pole for Round Two at Sebring by virtue of setting the fastest race lap today. The race is scheduled for 11:15 am ET tomorrow.

Matthew Brabham, #83 DTE Group (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – First: “It is really fantastic to get my first win in the first race of the series. I can’t explain the feeling. My plan was just to stay out front and my plan went through. It was a pretty easy race out in front except for the yellow flags bunching us up. It was a bit disappointing to finish under yellow but I’ll take any win as it comes. I am just really pleased with how everything went and would like to thank the guys at Cape Motorsports.”

Roman Lagudi, #4 Champion Stone/Tool and Supply/High Performance Distributors (Belardi Auto Racing) - Second: “It was a great race and I am happy to pull off a second-place finish for my team. I have to thank [driver coach] Rod MacLeod, my dad and everyone who helps me out. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Spencer Pigot, #2 Team Pelfrey/Doug Mockett & Company/E-merging Technologies/ (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – Third:  “Finishing third after starting seventh is always a good result, to improve from the starting position, but that is not exactly where we want to be so we will go back and just work on everything and be able to challenge Matthew [Brabham] for the win tomorrow.”

Mark Eaton, #92 (Robinson Motor Sports) – First in National Class: “The race was rather interesting, especially the start going three to four wide going into Turn One and three and four rows deep. It was pretty good to be able to pick through the field and make my way through traffic before the first yellow. I finally got around Scott [Rettich] towards the middle of the race and pulled a little bit of a gap before another caution came out. It was an interesting race and we will see what happens tomorrow.”

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